Utah Royals FC’s Christen Press opts out of press conference with USWNT teammates

Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Christen Press, a member of the U.S. women's soccer team and newest addition to the Royals FC greets fans at the Carnival Real at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, Saturday, June 23, 2018.

Sandy • Moments before she was scheduled to appear at a joint news conference with her two teammates from the United States Women’s National Team and the Utah Royals FC, Christen Press pulled a Royals spokesperson aside for a private conversation in the hallway of Rio Tinto Stadium.

A couple of minutes later, a Real Salt Lake spokesperson walked inside the room full of reporters and removed Press’ chair and name plate, indicating she would not join Becky Sauerbrunn and Kelley O’Hara in speaking about their experience winning the FIFA Women’s World Cup earlier this month.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Places were set for three Utah Royals players, Kelley O'Hara, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Christen Press, for a news conference on their World Cup experiences in Sandy on Wednesday July 17, 2019. When the event started, Press did not appear.

A team spokesperson later said Press “wasn’t feeling well,” and that was the reason she opted out of the press conference.

Early Wednesday morning, British newspaper The Guardian published a column criticizing Press for her social media partnership with the controversial website Barstool Sports, in which she used the company’s official Instagram account to take viewers behind the scenes of the USWNT’s victory parade after winning the World Cup. In the video, she thanks fans of Barstool for supporting the national team.

Before the news conference started, another team official asked reporters to limit their questions to the World Cup, the National Women’s Soccer League and the Royals.

The partnership between Press and Barstool was first reported last week by Deadspin. Since then, there has been some social media backlash toward Press and her decision to align herself with a media company that has a reputation of posting content many find offensive or misogynistic.

Press was not the first USWNT player to create content with Barstool. Rose Lavelle, who had a breakout performance during the World Cup, recorded a podcast with two of its hosts in June.

Press, the Royals, and U.S. Soccer have declined comment on the players’ links with Barstool. Last week, The Salt Lake Tribune reached EAG Sports Management, which represents Press, but EAG declined to respond.